On Sunday night, the Seattle Seahawks clinched the NFC West division with a 7—9 record to become the first division winner in league history to finish with below .500.
Many NFL fans are shocked and appalled as to how this could have happened. Although I can understand being appalled, is it really that shocking? Something like this should have been anticipated when the league realigned before the 2002 season. With only three other teams to compete with in a division, it is not only easier to clinch if you are in a weak one, but also less of an accomplishment due to this?
Due to the rule that a division winner automatically hosts a playoff game, none of the home teams playing this week have more wins than their wildcard opponents. And it’s not just one game. Three of the four match—ups have road teams who have at least two more wins than the division winners.
And the other one, the Packers and Eagles, feature teams that share the same record but the team on the road and with a lower seed (the Packers) have already beaten the home team, which is usually the tiebreaker.
The issue of re—seeding the playoffs has been brought up before. Unfortunately, Commissioner Roger Goodell seems more concerned with using his power to play regular season games in Europe and hosting Super Bowls in sub zero temperatures.
The answer to this issue is simple.
Forget re—seeding. Expand the playoffs to eight teams in each conference. The NHL and NBA each employ this system, and neither have as many teams as the NFL does.
Some people might argue that expanding the playoffs this much would mean lesser teams qualifying.
Well guess what. Under the current system of six qualifying, a lesser team has already done that. Yes, it could mean some 8—8 teams would get in, but it would ensure that the best teams would already be in.
This could also eliminate the issue of an 18 game season. Now a team would definitely have to play 20 games in order to win a championship.
It would also give more teams something to play for. Bye weeks would be eradicated, Wild Card weekend would also be eradicated, since bye weeks would no longer exist.
With all the changes and experiments the league is undertaking, shouldn’t this be a no—brainer especially given the current state of the playoff teams?